Okay, so yesterday the complaining. Today it’s time to look ahead with gusto to the cinematic events that will make our year, or so we hope.
One or two – or maybe more – of the items on this list will fall to massive nerd derision by the end of the year; such is the way of things. The way of the Force. But to those who withstand will come the power. The power to be almighty. The power to rule supreme. The power to be…masters of our movie year!
Prepare the fresh meat, for these are the films that the flames of our fandom will roast in the months to come:
10. Evil Dead.
Quit complaining about how you don’t want to ever see a remake; you already did, and it was called Evil Dead 2, and you loved it. Besides, since this new version has completely different characters, it could be an in-continuity sequel anyway for all you know, and it has the endorsement of both Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell. Here’s what we do know – the first cut submitted to the MPAA was rated NC-17. Yes, the studio backed down to an R, but when was the last time you heard of a horror movie even coming close? Also, no CG. Give us some practical sugar, baby.
9. Iron Man 3.
Robert Downey Jr. reunites with the director of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang to figure out if Tony Stark can still be interesting without any other Avengers around him. Considering he kickstarted the cinematic Marvel universe with only a post-credits assist, that’s probably a fairly secure bet. Now, can the decidedly English Ben Kingsley pull off Asian archvillain The Mandarin while affecting a somewhat dubious American accent (“Some people call me a turrrist…I consider myself a teachurrrr“)? And will it be tougher than playing Maori in Ender’s Game? That is the bigger dilemma here.
Fichtner power! The first of two movies on this list to feature William as a key character sees him play a Harvey Dent-scarred guru with a penchant for kidnapping dogs, in a surreal comedy from the director of Rubber, the greatest killer tire movie ever made. In this topsy-turvy world, it rains from the ceiling, clocks strike 7:60, and turds have memories that can be accessed by video feed. Just like the way real life ought to be.
I loved Pitch Black. I wish I loved The Chronicles of Riddick, which had some of the silliest sci-fi pseudo-jargon I’ve ever heard. The third feature in the series supposedly ditches the dorkiness of the Underverse for a tighter battle on yet another planet of hostile aliens, and I’m all for giving it another shot. Katee Sackhoff’s in it also, which is a plus, because nobody really cares that Karl Urban is back (if you can quote a single line uttered by him in the prior film without looking it up, I’ll be amazed). Here’s hoping David Twohy’s last movie, A Perfect Getaway, a.k.a. cheap excuse for filming a tropical vacation with last-minute twist, doesn’t represent the extent of his talent today.
6. Man of Steel.
Like everyone else on this planet, I still feel very mixed signals as far as Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot goes. Is it pseudo-Terrence Malick hokum? Is it Snyder-style slo-mo writ large? Will General Zod’s lack of mustache feel gratuitous? Is Jimmy Olson now a woman for no reason? Why does Supes have a beard in early clips, and will we see him shave? If David Goyer says one more time that they’re approaching this movie like real; life as opposed to a comic book, will we all want to smack him? Believing a man can fly feels like a reasonable task these days compared to our modern demands, but we’ll all be there to see how it shakes out, no matter what.
5. Thor: The Dark World.
Christopher Eccleston plays Malekith, leader of the dark Elves of Svartelfheim, plus Mr. Eko from Lost is Kurse, another evil elf, with horns on his head. If director Alan Taylor can pull that off while being even halfway serious, I’m onboard.
4. Ender’s Game.
The kid from Hugo and the girl from the True Grit remake go through military space school while Harrison Ford yells at them, all in preparation for an alien insect attack that may or may not ever happen? These are the things of which classic sci-fi is made. I was going to say it’s like a younger skewing Starship Troopers minus the shower scene, except that one of the key setpieces of both book and movie is a shower scene, albeit one in which people get hurt rather than made happy. Not exactly the movie you’d expect to reunite Ben Kingsley and his underage Hugo costar Asa Butterfield, but here it is.
3. Star Trek Into Darkness.
Even though its director has pissed off to master the franchise he prefers, let us not forget how warm the reboot made us feel three years ago the moment we realized it hadn’t been irrevocably fucked up. Benedict Cumberbatch may not look much like Khan, and may or may not actually be Khan, but whatever his space birth certificate turns out to reveal, we know he’s no match for the patented Kirk dropkick. Can Chris Pine pull that off? Fire him up by telling him he’s Rob Liefeld’s choice to star as Rob in the Image movie, and he’ll find the motivation for sure.
2. Pacific Rim.
I still prefer Guillermo del Toro’s name for this film, Giant Fucking Robots Against Giant Fucking Monsters. And I’d rather Charlie Hunnam, who lost me immediately as the star of Nicholas Nickleby (and is probably here as a favor to del Toro regular and Sons of Anarchy costar Ron Perlman), weren’t involved. But will it matter? Doubtful. Plus Idris Elba and Rinko Kikuchi are pretty kickass, and the apparent determination to make “kaiju” a household word is yet another step in the global nerd conquest of everything. Godzilla may be in the works, but they’re not likely to get to Jet Jaguar until a few sequels in, so this is the rumble you want in theory if it isn’t quite in name yet.
Another stylish sci-fi class-struggle parable from District 9 director Neill Blomkamp, with Matt Damon as a shaven-headed working-class guy on an overpopulated earth in which downtown LA is shown covered with tent encampments, even atop the skyscrapers. Inadvertently exposed to toxic radiation, he’s given a mechanical exoskeleton to help him capture a rich bureaucrat played by William Fichtner and infiltrate Elysium, an off-world space station created for the richest 1%, where disease can be eradicated and everything is perfect. When the Saw sequels took on our health care system, the franchise got some late-in-the-game steam, so a bigger and more ambitious project with that issue at its heart may do even better. Rumor is there’ll be screenings of the entire movie at Comic-Con 2013, given how well that strategy paid off for District 9. The Comic-Con presentation last summer felt like a bid to seize the Occupy Wall Street momentum, but movies react slowly to change; I’m hoping the economy won’t tank again to make it more relevant, but if it does, more ticket sales could happen.